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Why doesn't this rupture your eardrum?

  1. Jan 27, 2015 #1
    The eardrum is a very thin membrane separating the middle ear from the outer ear. When I try to "pop" my ears when I have a head cold by closing my mouth , pinching my nose and applying pressure from the throat side why don't my eardrums rupture? When I do this I hear some liquid moving around,but nothing happens to my eardrum. Aren't these drums very thin and delicate and vulnerable to a pressure blowout?
  2. jcsd
  3. Jan 27, 2015 #2


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    Staff Emeritus
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    I believe you can actually burst your ear drums if you do this violently enough. Normally though that popping sensation occurs when the pressure in the middle ear has been equalised with the outside atmosphere. The eustachian tube connects the back of the throat with the inner ear and usually is closed, when you hold your nose and blow (or yawn or a few other things) you open them up and equalise the middle ear.
  4. Jan 27, 2015 #3


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    Staff: Mentor

    If holding your nose and blowing opens the eustacian tube, that increases the pressure (equalizes with respect to the pressure you are creating in your lungs, not with outside pressure). Indeed, that's why you do it when scuba diving. My understanding is that the act clears blockages, which then allows pressure to equalize after you release the action.
  5. Jan 28, 2015 #4
    Thanks for the information. Does a burst eardrum heal itself,or do you become deaf in one ear.
  6. Jan 28, 2015 #5


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    Gold Member

    Yes, ruptured ear drums usually heal.
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